Calgary Humane Society unveils renovations while celebrating 100th anniversary

While the Society actually turned 100 on July 11, the organization waited to celebrate its centenary until renovations were completed.

The $14-million renovation took place over two years

A young girl plays with a cat at the Calgary Humane Society's renovated facility. (Jo Horwood/CBC)

The Calgary Humane Society celebrated the opening of its renovated facility on Saturday while also marking its 100th anniversary.

Carrie Fritz, executive director at the Humane Society, said the organization officially opened the renovated centre Friday night. Saturday's celebration of the renovations and the centennial anniversary featured food trucks, carnival games and local entertainment.

While the Society actually turned 100 on July 11, the organization waited to celebrate its centenary until renovations were completed. The $14-million renovation, which took place over the last two years, saw about 16,000 square feet added to the building, according to Fritz. 

Fritz said the added space will allow for better species segregation, so dogs can stay on one side of the building while cats, rabbits and other critters stay on the other. She said that will make for a quieter and happier environment for all the animals.

The Calgary Humane Society underwent a $14-million renovation, which saw about 16,000 square feet added to the building. (Jo Horwood/CBC)

"The outdoors spaces that we created are just going to make a better home for the animals while they're here," Fritz said.

One of the best parts of the renovation, according to the executive director, is the upgrades to the veterinary clinic. Those upgrades include the addition of a maternity ward and a larger surgery suite.

Struggling with high rate of surrenders

The Humane Society is already quite full with animals, Fritz said, so the renovations won't necessarily allow them to accommodate more animals. However, Fritz hopes the enhanced environment at the centre will lead to a quicker turnover getting pets into new homes.

One of the almost 200 pets currently under care at the Calgary Humane Society. (Jo Horwood/CBC)

"If they're happier, then they're healthier animals, and obviously a healthier animal is more adoptable."

Fritz said the Humane Society has seen an increase in pet surrenders recently, especially with people returning their animals two years into the pandemic. The organization currently has just under 200 pets in its care, according to Fritz. 

"We are struggling a little bit," she said.

"This has been the perfect storm with the economy declining, with COVID, people going back to work [and an] increase in costs. So, people are just not able to afford their animal."

However, Fritz says the organization is grateful for the support it gets from the community. She said about 90 per cent of the funds needed for the centre's renovations came through donors. 

Karina Thiessen was one of 700 people who attended Saturday's celebration at the Humane Society. She said her family once adopted a cat from the organization.

Carrie Fritz, executive director at the Humane Society, says the renovations took about two years to complete. (Jo Horwood/CBC)

Thiessen says it's important to support the organization and pets in need of new homes.

"I think every animal deserves a home. But in these cases, clearly they need [help] a little bit more," she said.

"If we can do that, we should."

With files from Jo Horwood


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